The overwhelming message that I heard from the many people that called and e-mailed after the CBS news piece was that there is a market for an E-wheel that could be installed on non hybrid cars, and that this concept could save a lot of gas. I will start the design with my dodge caravan as the target vehicle, and see if it makes sense in the real world of heavy vehicles.The photo shows the Insight E-wheel propped up against the van hitch. A bigger wheel, bigger motor, more batteries, more down force, ability to follow the rear wheel track as the van is turning, are only some of the new design issues to deal with. A vacuum pump for power brakes, and power steering pump will be required to keep the van brakes and steering operational when powered by the E-wheel. A Two wheel trailer HYBRAD adapter
I finally removed the e-wheel, boost system, and booster batteries, to clear the deck for my next round of modifications. I carefully examined the e-wheel mechanism, and found that one of the pivot hinges was binding, as well as the hinge pin on the up/down force cylinder clevis. Some lube and some gentle tapping made it good again. A sealed greased hinge bearing would be how I would do it again.
The cylinder shaft seal is leaking air just a bit, and some of the air fittings are also leaking from the plastic tubing cold flowing around the o-ring. True compression fittings with inner and outer ferrules would be the best way to run the air.
The controller and control handle are still working like new.
The regulator I chose is one that will not vent if the output pressure is higher than the input, or each bump will vent some air.
The tire with about 500-600 miles on it still has some rubber, but no threads, A bigger diameter tire with more aggressive threads, and much more down force would all move things in a better direction.
An hour with the wire wheel, and the thing will look like new.
(Posted 12/19/2009 by mikey)
Auto back up system
Backing up a trailer, is a skill that is not intuitive, and gets more difficult as the length of the arm between the hitch and trailer wheels gets shorter. This one aspect of the e-wheel concept would seem to be a show stopper. Initially I was thinking that lifting the E-wheel or E- trailer off the ground could solve this problem, but when you consider the down force required for good traction, the only thing that makes sense is to have the batteries generate the down force with their weight. Lifting 800 lbs of batteries would bottom out the rear suspension, and is not a safe or reasonable option. If the arm between the trailer hitch and the wheel/wheels were able to hinge horizontally in the middle under servo control,while supporting the weight vertically, the rear wheel/wheels would be steerable independent of the vehicle wheels. With todays electronics, this should be easily accomplished. A front wheel drive system from a car with the CV jointed drive shafts and steering would offer another way to steer the E-trailer wheels. The control system would want to automatically keep the e-wheel/e-trailer centered behind the vehicle while backing up. A rear view TV camera would allow a better view of the e-wheel/e-trailer.
The concept would apply to any trailer, and would only be required when backing up. Now to build a prototype. This link of the autobackup generator trailer for the T zero is exactly what I have in mind: autobackup trailer video
(Posted 7/6/2008 by mikey)
I have examined many of the possible ways to incorporate an electric drive on the many varieties of SUV,Pickup, and Vans, and have itemized the issues that need to be resolved. 1. The vehicle operation as far as power steering, brakes,ABS,air bag,ac or heat, must be intact and operational, if this is to be safe and well accepted. 2. Since each car has differences in how these systems work, and are integrated with the control computers,it will be a major design effort to make a universal interface that would work smoothly with all of the variations that are used in the various vehicles from the various manufacturers. 3.a powerful electric drive system,is required to push a heavy vehicle,with lots of heavy batteries if highway speeds are to me maintained for any distance, which will likely make the system cost higher than people will tolerate. A top speed of 45mph, and a design range of 20-60 miles, would keep the system size and cost down,with the range being a variable as to the battery capacity that would be installed.
I just did an experiment with my 1996 Dodge Caravan with the big 6 cylinder engine. I got on a slight down hill road,got up to 45 mph and simply put the vehicle in neutral, and watched the mpg gauge. I was getting about 75 MPG, as the engine idled, kept all safety systems operational as well as giving me the needed heat(was 48 F). If I had an E-drive(rear wheel powered), or E-wheel (hitch mounted drop down wheel), that could have maintained the 45 MPH,the trip would have yielded 75 MPG. If more power is required, simply put the van back in gear, and climb the hill or accelerate into traffic. All of the safety issues of running full electric are taken care of, and no modifications to the van were required. A standard tranny would work even better. If a DC/DC converter that could take the 12V system and charge the HV batteries, were included, a limited form of regen using the idling gas engine may be able to extend the electric range.
Of course the next step would be to add an interface to the brakes and power steering so the gas could be turned off. More costly more complexity, and more potential safety issues. What would it look like:
The trailer hitch E-wheel would look like the rear end of a motorcycle, and have batteries over the wheel with shocks and springs supporting the weight. If more batteries are needed, they could be on board. I have a design in mind that would allow backing up without the need to lift the wheel, which would solve the biggest issue with the concept
The integrated E-drive would electrify the rear end, and always be available, this would be the cleanest and safest,but would be custom for each model.
A two wheel electric pusher trailer (Hybrad) would be an additional option.This option makes backing up difficult,but is easy to remove from one vehicle and put on another, or for storage.